Select a year
- Highs Astonishing acceleration, all-wheel drive allows rear-drive antics, expensively appointed cabin.
- Lows Less engaging than smaller M models, not as boisterous as the AMG E63 S, subdued appearance hides its mission.
- Verdict The M5 retains the luxury of the regular 5-series and transforms it into a ferocious four-wheeled Ferrari hunter.
With a twin-turbo V-8 that churns out up to 617 horsepower, the 2021 BMW M5 deserves a more explicit classification than mere sports sedan. It also earned a spot on our Editors' Choice list. Although based on the normal 5-series and sharing an equally elegant interior, the mighty Bimmer is transformed by the company's high-performance M division. Sure, its mission to outrun some of the best sports cars is veiled by its relatively subdued appearance, but simply mat the accelerator and hold on as the M5 blasts ahead like a cruise missile. Its track-ready hardware also supports impressive handling limits, and its sophisticated all-wheel-drive system also allows juvenile rear-drive sideways shenanigans. However, the BMW's six-figure price tag might as well be a "no kids allowed" sign, because the 2021 M5 is a machine for well-heeled men and women who covet rockets with four doors.
What's New for 2021?
BMW freshens up the 2021 M5 with a larger grille, restyled front and rear bumpers, and updated headlights and taillights. Inside, the most notable change is a new 12.3-inch touchscreen that replaces last year's 10.25-inch display. The system also adds Android Auto, cloud-based navigation features, and other improvements. Less obvious are the revised M mode settings, which are now easier to access thanks to being consolidated into a single button. In addition to several new paint options, the standard brake calipers can now be finished in high-gloss black or red. The Competition model nets a new full Merino leather color scheme, a new Track drive mode, and new shock absorbers. These dampers benefit from a recalibrated control system that BMW says should improve ride comfort, especially at high speeds.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Who are we kidding? Despite the increased cost, the M5 Competition is the one to get. Not only does it have an additional 17 horsepower compared with the regular model, it has exclusive chassis components and tuning that maximize its performance and handling. After all, if we're spending six figures on a sports sedan, we want the most badass version. The M5 Comp also has 20-inch wheels, extra black exterior accents, and a standard M Sport exhaust system that increases the volume of the engine's soundtrack. While every model has a smorgasbord of desirable features, we'd further upgrade our M5 with the Executive package. This adds a 360-degree camera system, ventilated front-seat cushions with built-in massagers, heated front and rear seats, parking sensors at both ends, power-operated rear window shades, self-parking assist, and soft-close automatic doors.
Find your perfect ride!
We're partnering with Carvana because we want to make it easy for you to find the exact vehicle you're looking for.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
Sporting a twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 with 600 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque, the M5 is mighty quick. At our test track, it launched to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and snapped off a 10.9-second quarter-mile time at 129 mph; top speed is a governor-limited 163 mph. An even more powerful M5 Competition model is now available and makes 617 horsepower. It proved to be quicker than the regular M5 on a real racetrack at our annual Lightning Lap. The M5 faithful will lament the discontinued manual gearbox and unfamiliar all-wheel-drive system, but this Bimmer has a high-tech drivetrain that can send 100 percent of power to the rear wheels for pure rear-drive personality. Driving enjoyment is maximized here with lively and direct steering, a well-controlled (borderline stiff) ride, and heroic cornering grip. That doesn't mean the M5 can't also do duty as a luxury sedan: In Comfort mode, it cruises placidly, and the cabin is whisper quiet.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The EPA estimates the 2021 M5 will earn 15 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. Both figures are worse than the Mercedes-AMG E63 S sedan (16 mpg city and 23 highway). We tested the M5 Competition on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen. It exceeded its government rating by 3, with a result of 24-mpg highway.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The M5 has an elegant leather interior with supple and supportive sport seats. The driver's seating position is optimized for performance-style driving, and BMW hasn't gone the all-touchscreen route that many of its rivals have, so making changes to the air conditioning or adjusting the radio during driving causes little distraction. There's also a slew of desirable standard features that include customizable ambient interior lighting, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, and a power-adjustable steering column. Further options include ventilated front seats with massage functions, heated rear seats, and four-zone automatic climate control. Along with useful interior cubby storage, the M5's trunk held six carry-on suitcases in our test.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The M5's large 12.3-inch touchscreen display runs BMW's latest iDrive infotainment software, sits atop the dash to the right of the driver's sightlines, and is primarily controlled by a rotary knob on the center console. The system includes standard Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. There's also a 16-speaker, 600-watt Harman/Kardon audio system and wireless device charging on all models. Those who want even fancier features can opt for the optional rear-seat entertainment system and 16-speaker, 1400-watt Bowers & Wilkins sound system.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2021 M5 hasn't been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The sports sedan does offer a wide variety of standard driver-assistance technology, such as automatic high-beams and blind-spot monitoring. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available cruise control with stop-and-go technology
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
BMW provides a limited warranty and powertrain protection that aligns with luxury rivals. Its complimentary scheduled maintenance is shorter than what Jaguar offers, but BMW's plan still ranks among the best.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for three years or 36,000 miles
2021 BMW M5 Competition
Vehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
Base/As Tested: $113,095/$141,045
Options: M carbon-ceramic brakes, $8500; Voodoo Blue paint, $5000; Merino leather, $3500; Bowers & Wilkins sound system, $3400; Executive package, $3350; M Driver's package, $2500; Driving Assistance Plus, $1700
twin-turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 32-valve V-8, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 268 in3, 4395 cm3
Power: 617 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 553 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm
Suspension, F/R: multilink/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 15.8-in vented, cross-drilled, carbon-ceramic disc/15.0-in vented, cross-drilled, carbon-ceramic disc
Tires: Pirelli P Zero PZ4
F: 275/35R-20 (102Y) ★
R: 285/35R-20 (104Y) ★
Wheelbase: 117.4 in
Length: 196.4 in
Width: 74.9 in
Height: 57.8 in
Passenger Volume: 102 ft3
Trunk Volume: 14 ft3
Curb Weight: 4237 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 2.8 sec
100 mph: 6.7 sec
1/4-Mile: 10.9 sec @ 128 mph
130 mph: 11.2 sec
150 mph: 15.8 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.2 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 3.7 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 2.5 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 2.6 sec
Top Speed (mfr's claim): 190 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 139 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 281 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 1.00 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 19 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 17/15/21 mpg